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Hariri named as Lebanon's new prime minister

Former prime minister resumes post five years on after throwing his support behind former political rival
Saad Hariri poses for a selfie with journalists at the presidential palace after being declared prime minister on Thursday (Reuters)

Leading Lebanese political figure Saad Hariri was named as the country’s new prime minister on Thursday, in what many hope will end a 29-month power vacuum.

"After the necessary parliamentary consultations... the president has entrusted Saad Hariri with the formation of a government," said a statement read by the president's chief of staff Antoine Choukeir. 

The nomination comes days after Aoun was elected, with Hariri's surprise support, ending a power vacuum of more than two years.

READ: Lebanon's new president arises, Sunni bloc falls apart

The Lebanese parliament elected Aoun, a former army commander now in his 80s, as president on Monday – he won the support of an absolute majority of the chamber.

Hariri, who has already stood as prime minister, threw his backing behind Aoun in a shock move that commentators say signifies a shift in Lebanon’s relations with former close ally Saudi Arabia.

Aoun is Hariri’s former political foe and an ally of Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia militant group opposed to Saudi Arabia.

READ: Michel Aoun: Political survivor finally returns to power

Aoun’s presidency will be largely symbolic, as all decisions must be approved by the prime minister.

Hariri, the son of assassinated former prime minister Rafik Hariri, was endorsed on Thursday by 110 members of the 127-seat parliament.

Only the Shia Hezbollah movement, the Syrian Social National Party and the Lebanese Baath party - all supporters of Syria's government - declined to back him as prime minister.

Hariri returns to the post of prime minister five years after his last cabinet collapsed, when his longtime rival Hezbollah and its allies pulled their ministers from a unity government that had taken months to form.

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